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REC/PES FOR COOKING
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E3 R A R Y
CURRENT SERIAL Riuuf
OTMENT OF At
WILDLIFE LEAFLET 229
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Unitod States Department of the Interior
Fish and Wildlife Service
Wildlife Leaflet 229
Illinois * Rev, October 1943
RECIPES FOR COOKIHG MUSKRAT MEAT
By Herbert L. Dozier, Director, Unitod States Fur Animal Field Station,
Pur Resources, Division of Wildlife Research
Introduction • 1
General directions for dress-
ing and cooking • 2
Recipes •• •• •o 2
Fried muskrat •«•••• 2
Wine-fried muskrat • • • • 3
Broiled marsh rabbit • • • 3
Smothered muskrat . • • • 3
Maryland potted or baked
muskrat ..•••••• 3
Muskrat a la terrapin • • 3
Michigan special • • • • • 4
Recipes— Continue do
Layered muskrat and com e • 4
Marsh hare a la Louis ianns « 4
Pickled muskrat 4
Muskrat pie .......
Maryland shredded muskrat
Muskrat with tomato sauce
Muskrat patties • • • • <
Muskrat salad ••••••
Stewed muskrat liver • • .
Preserving muskrat meat .
Because of the scarcity of other meats, Americans will be eating more
poultry and domestic rabbit. Some will try muskrat, or "marsh rabbit," as
it is sometimes called. Muskrat was highly esteemed, ©specially in winter,
by the aborigines of North America. The voyageurs, trappers, and hvmters
roasted it over the coals of the camp fire, and traders ajid Indians dried
the meat for winter food.
In modern times many persons also have eaten the flesh of the muskrat
and relished it. Some have declared that it is game worthy of em epicure
and has a flavor somewhat like that of the wild duck shot in the same marsh
in which the muskrat fed. Its flavor has likewise been likened to that of
the famous terrapin of Chesapeake Bay. The muskrat is mainly a vegetarian
euid feeds on the roots and stems of such aquatic plsuits as cattails, sedges^
bulrushes, wildrice, pond lilies, and water?/© ed.
Fresh muskrat meat is available during the open trapping seasons in
various States. This period extends from November to April, depending
on State laws. Muskrats are sold extensively in some of the markets of
the East. In Washington, Baltimore, St. Louis, Wilmington, and Phila-
delphia, they are sold as "marsh rabbits," but no attempt is made to
conceal the fact that they are muskrats^ They can be purchased cheaply
as they are trapped for their fur and the additional labor of preparing
the meat for market is slight.
Muskrat is eaten by all classes of people. It is a favorite dish
at dinners given by church societies in Delaware, Maryland, and New Jer-
sey, and an annual muskrat banquet is a fixture with certain gun clubs
in both the Bast and the West.
GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR DRESSING A1>ID COOKING
The flesh of the muskrat, dark red in color, is fine-grained and
tender. Prejudice against the meat results usually from lack of skill
in cooking or from carelessness in skinning the animal. The musk glands
often cone off with the skin, and only in summer does the musky odor per-
vade the flesh. Care should be taken to avoid cutting into the musk
glands, and any subcutaneous glands that may adhere to the meat should
be trimmed off.
The dressed muskrat should be soaked overnight in slightly salted
cold water to draw out the blood and reduce the gamy flavor. Tfeak vinegar
also reduces the "wild" taste and tends to make the meat more tender. A
pinch of baking soda may be used for the same purpose.
Young muskrats, like young rabbits, can be cooked by the quick methods
of frying or broiling. Older emimals require longer, slower cooking. The
latter are excellent served in fricassees, casserole dishes, muskrat pies,
croquettes, chop suey, and other ways adapted to mature meat.
The recipes given here are typical of the many suitable for cooking
this meat. When properly prepared, it is highly palatable.
Disjoint the muskrat and cut it into desired number of pieces. Par-
boil for 20 minutes, drain, and wipe with damp cloth. Fry plain in a
heavy skillet. If preferred, the pieces may be dipped until well-coated
in a smooth batter made by beating one egg yolk in half a cup of milk,
adding three-fourths of a teaspoonful of salt, and stirring in half a cup
of flour, and dropped into hot fat. As soon as the meat is browned, re-
duce the heat and cook slowly until tender. Serve on a hot platter and
garnish with parsley. A rich, brown gravy may be made by stirring flour
into the pan drippings, adding a little water or milk, and cooking until
Wine -fried Muskrat
Soak muskrat ©"vieraight in slightly salted -water. Drain and boil in
fresh water until tender. Separate the meat from the bones and fry in
shortening. As this is frying, pour over it a little sweet wine, sherry
wine being generally used. Some prefer to serve the meat on a hot platter
and then pour the wine over it»
Broiled Marsh Rabbit
Clean and wash the muskrat emd wipe it with a damp cloth. Butter
thoroughly and brush with a thin mixture of vinegar and mustard. Dust
well with prepared poultry seasoning, place in broiler, and broil for
After soaking the muskrat overnight, drain and parboil for 20 minutes.
Heat some sausage or bacon drippings in a thick skillet and sear meat in it«
Season with salt, pepper, and chopped onion. Sprinkle with flour and add a
little water. Then cover and allow it to simmer until thoroughly done.
Maryland Potted or Baked Muskrat
Soak 2 muskrats overnight, drain, and cut into pieces. Pour boiling
water over meat, stir thoroughly, and drain. Place in a thick skillet or
iron pot, add a little water, a pod of red pepper or half a teaspoonful of
red cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste, a little sage and 4
tablespoonfuls of bacon or sausage drippings. If desired, a generous
piece of washed salt pork may be used instead. Sprinkle flour over top,
cover, and bake in a moderately hot oven until tender, basting several
times until well browned.
Enough potatoes for the meal may be cooked with the meat, or the musk-
rat can be served with diced, buttered white or sweet potatoes, peas, or
Muskrat a la Terrapin
Boil the meat in slightly salted water for about an hour or until
tender but firm. Drain off the cooking water. Remove the meat from the
bones and cut it into small pieces. Cover the bones with cold water and
let simmer. Then add this juice to the meat. For each muskrat, hard-
boil 3 or 4 eggs. Mash the yolks with 2 tablespoonfuls of butter, stir
until smooth, suid add a level tablespoonful of mustard, a tablespoonful
of flour, and abput half a cup of cream. Put iil the chopped egg whites,
fimd pepper and salt to taste. Then mix all of this with the muskrat meat
and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick. Before serving, add a glass-
ful of sherry wine.
After soaking the muskrat overnight, disjoint it and cut it into
pieces t Put it into fresh water and parboil for 5 minutes. Drain and
rinse with warm water. Place in a roaster and cover with canned com
and a little water or milk, using 2 cans of corn to 3 nuskrats* Add
salt euad pepper, 3 me divan- si zed onions, and 2 tablespoonfuls of butter.
Place in a hot oven and stir the pieces as they brown. Bake about 2^
hours, or until the meat is well done.
Layered Muskrat and Com
Soak muskrat overnight in slightly salted water. Drain and parboil
for 20 minutes in fresh water seasoned with a little celery, onions, salt,
and pepper. Separate the meat from the bones and place it in a casserole.
Layer it with canned crushed com (a layer of corn and then a layer of
meat), topping off with the com. Add a little milk, place in oven, and
bake until well done and properly browned on top*
Marsh Hare a la Louis ianne
Disjoint legs of muskrats and soak them in vinegar for 30 minutes or
more. Remove from vinegar. Salt and pepper well, place in hot cooking
oil, and brown. Then remove to another pot with about 2 quarts of hot
water. Chop fine a piece of celery, parsnip, and a small head of garlic.
Brown the chopped seasoning in the cooking oil in which meat was browned,
add 2 cans of tomato or pin»nto sauce, and cook over a slow fire for 5
minutes. Pour this sauce into pot with the muskrat legs and cook over low
heat vmtil done, adding salt and pepper to taste, a teaspoonful of sugar,
and a few bay leaves.
Place muskrat in a crock or glass jar containing a solution of a cup
of water, a cup of cider vinegar, a tablespoonful of salt, mixed, spices,
and bay leaves. Let stand in a cold place for at least 24, and preferably
48, hours. Then simmer in the same mixture until tender. Remove meat,
strain off the spices and bay leaves, and thicken the liquid with flour and
water to the desired consistency.
This dish is best seirved with potato dumplings. To make the dumplings,
fry a medium-sized onion in 2 tablespoons of fat, then pour this over 4
cups of diced bread, and mix by hand. Add a cup of mashed potatoes and mix
thoroughly, then 2 raw eggs, half a cup of flour, and salt to taste.
Fashion lightly into large balls, drop into boiling water in an uncovered
pot or kettle, and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with brown gravy.
Soak muskrat overnight in slightly salted water. Drain, wipe the
meat with a damp cloth, and cut into two or three pieces. Place in a
kettle, barely cover it with water, add a little salt, and let simmer
1 to 2 hours until the meat is tender » Pour off and measure the broth.
Remove the meat from the bones in large pieces. Chop up an onion, a
green pepper, and half a cup of parsley, smd put in a skillet with several
table spoonfuls of butter or other fat. Cook for a few minutes, stirring
frequently. For each cup of broth, take 1^ tablespoonfuls of flour and
mix well with the fat and seasonings. Pour in the broth and stir until
thickened. Salt to taste and add a dash of tabasco sauce. Mix in the
meat well and place in individued baJcing dishes. Cover with pastry and
bake in a moderate oven until the crust is a golden brown.
Maryland Shredded Muskrat
Soak 2 muskrats in slightly salted water for 2 days, changing the
water twice a day. Cut up and boil in water sufficient only to cover,
^en tender, remove meat from the bones, and shred into small, narrow
pieces about 2 inches or less in length. Place in frying pan or other
container with Just enough of the liquor in which the meat was boiled to
cover, add 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings, 1 tablespoon of sage, a
little cayenne pepper, and salt and black pepper to taste* Place in oven,
turn frequently until well browned but still moist, and serve hot.
Muskrat with Tomato Sauce
Disjoint and cut into pieces 2 muskrats. Place in a deep pan, cover
well with water, add ^ teaspoonful of black pepper, a pinch of salt, and
1 sliced onion, and cook about an hour, or until thoroughly tender. Melt
half a cup of fat in a thick skillet. Place meat in the hot skillet,
brown on one side, turn, and immediately pour over it about two-thirds of
a small-sized bottle of catchup and a teagpoonful of Worcestershire sauce*
If desired, the pieces of onion saved from the first water and a small
piece of celery may be added* Almost cover with water and let simmer un-
til the gravy is thick enough to serve.
Soak muskrat overnight in slightly salted water* Drain and parboil
in fresh water until tender. Remove the meat from the bones, run through
meat grinder if desired, season with salt, pepper, euad onion, mix in a
small quantity of bread crumbs, and fashion into patties* Dip these into
well-beaten egg, then in crumbs, and fry in deep fat until brown.
After soaJcing muskrat overnight in salted water, drain and boil in
fresh water, seasoned with salt, and pepper for flavoring, until meat is
tender but finn. Separate meat from the bones, cut it into small pieces,
and prepare like chicken or other meat salad* With mayonnaise only added,
it may be used as a sandwich spread.
Stevred Muskrat Llvor
Care must bo taken to remove all gall bladders. Soak the livers over-
night in fresh water. Simmer for 10 minutes, draw off the water, and then
simmer again in water in which a small piece of salt pork has been added.
Salt and pepper to taste, add sliced onion, and stew down, thickening the
liquid with a little flour,
Muskrat liver is somewhat grainy. Hovrever, it tastes like that of
chicken and is much relishgd.
Preserving Muskrat Ifeat
During the trapping season th9 wives of trappers and fanners living on
or near marsh areas where muskrats are produced preserve the meat for later
use. This is done by ordinary home -pre serving methods. A favorite way is
to parboil the meat, fry it lightly, and then pack it tightly in glass or
earthen jars. Melted fat should then be poured over it until it covers the
meat about one-quarter of an inch, in the same manner as country sausage is
The quick-freezing method and the locker service furnished by ice and
refrigerating companies have made it possible to develop still further the
preservation of muskrat meat. The usual procedure is to bleuach or lightly
parboil the meat, wrap it in special waxed paper, and then quick-freeze it#
POTTED OR BAKED MUSKRAT (RECIPE PAGE s)
MARYLAND SHREDDED MUSKRAT (RECIPE PAGE 5)